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Prosecutors decline to charge Mensah in Anderson Jr. deadly shooting

Posted at 1:15 PM, May 31, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-01 18:22:51-04

MILWAUKEE — Special prosecutors have decided not to pursue charges against former Wauwatosa police officer Joseph Mensah in the deadly police shooting of Jay Anderson Jr. in Wauwatosa in 2016.

Prosecutors said they've determined Officer Mensah did intentionally, beyond a reasonable doubt, shoot and kill Jay Anderson Jr. in Wauwatosa. However, in order to convict, it needs to be proven that Mensah's actions were not self-defense.

"The decisive question that we focused on was self-defense," Milwaukee attorney Scott Hansen said. Hansen said he and La Crosse County District Attorney Tim Gruenke looked at the dash camera video from Mensah's vehicle and had it converted into still images.

Prosecutors said in his final moments, Anderson's hands were raised. He then lowered a hand to where his weapon was, then raised his hands back up quickly.

The prosecutors showed those stills and footage to dozens of people, a majority of whom determined Anderson's actions appeared to be threatening. Gruenke and Hansen determined with that in mind, there's not enough evidence to prove Mensah's actions were not self-defense.

Therefore, no charges are being filed against Mensah.

After the prosecutors announced their decision, the attorney for the Anderson family asked the judge to appoint new special prosecutors. That request was denied, with the judge saying he believes Hansen and Gruenke looked at the case with a fresh perspective.

The judge said he never thought the case was a "slam dunk." He said he has kept an open mind. "It's not about the court having an agenda," he said and said he follows the statute.

WATCH: Family of Jay Anderson Jr. speaks

Family of Jay Anderson Jr. speaks

"There will are a lot of unanswered questions that will never be answered, I believe," the judge said. "I continue to believe this entire tragedy could be avoidable."

Anderson's mom, Linda Anderson, spoke after the decision as well, saying, "I think that this court hearing all the money we spent was for nothing...Do you know how hard it is to work day and night pay my bills...I'm not stopping until that man is behind bars..."

Mensah's legal team issued the following statement:

"Facts matter. The hearing conducted by Attorney Kimberley Motley was one-sided and not complete. Officer Mensah was not able to present evidence, including video or expert testimony. Officer Mensah also was not able to cross-examine Attorney Motley’s witnesses and challenge the credibility of their opinions.

The Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and now Special Prosecutors Scott Hansen and Tim Greunke have cleared Officer Mensah of criminal liability. Officer Mensah wishes to thank the community, his friends, and family for their overwhelming support."

Read their decision below:
Report About Possible Criminal Charges Against Officer Mensah by TODAY'S TMJ4 on Scribd

Mensah shot and killed Jay Anderson Jr. after discovering him sleeping in a park after hours in 2016. Anderson was one of three people Mensah killed during a five-year stint on the Wauwatosa department.

Police Shooting Wisconsin Mensah
This undated photo provided by family through Motley Legal Services shows Jay Anderson. A judge will decide this week whether to charge a Wisconsin police officer who killed a man sitting in a parked car after the man's family invoked a rarely used legal process in a bid to get around prosecutors who cleared the officer. Joseph Mensah shot Jay Anderson Jr. after he discovered him sleeping in his car after hours in a park in Wauwatosa, a Milwaukee suburb, in 2016. Mensah said Anderson was reaching for a gun.
Wauwatosa Police Officer Joseph Mensah

Prosecutors opted not to charge him in any of the deaths, but Yamahiro decided to reopen Anderson's case last summer.

"We could see the light, a change is coming, we found somebody that actually listened to the case," Linda Anderson, Jay Anderson Jr.'s mother, said.

Jay was 25 at the time. He was a father, a landscaper, and a chef.

"Jay was funny, he kept us laughing all the time, he was a family man, he was a hard worker," said Linda Anderson.

"We're missing a part of our heart, he's gone, a piece of us is gone," said Jay Anderson Sr.

Mensah's attorney told TMJ4 News he will make a statement after Wednesday's hearing.

Hansen has been with Milwaukee law firm Reinhart, Boerner, and VanDeuren for nearly 50 years.

Gruenke has been a prosecutor for 25 years and has served as the La Crosse County DA for the past 13.

Hansen and Gruenke only reviewed the shooting death of Jay Anderson. Mensah was patrolling Madison Park in 2016 when he found Anderson sleeping in his car. Mensah says Anderson reached for a gun as he walked up to the car. Anderson was shot several times.

"He killed my son. My son should be here with his family right now. We shouldn't have to be out here fighting every day," Linda Anderson said. "If anything Joseph should have pulled Jay out of that car."

Mensah was involved in two other fatal shootings, over five years as a Wauwatosa Police Officer. In 2015, he shot and killed Antonio Gonzalez, 29. In 2020, Mensah shot and killed Alvin C, 17, outside Mayfair Mall.

All of Mensah's shootings were ruled justified by the Milwaukee County District Attorney.

Mensah resigned from the Wauwatosa Police Department in 2020 after collecting a severance payment. He is now working for the Waukesha County Sheriff's Department.

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